A Polish composer born December 6, 1933 in Czernica, who died October 12, 2010 in Katowice (Poland).
A violinist by training, Henryk Gorecki studied composition at the Katowice Music Academy with Bolesław Szabelski, then in Paris, where he met Pierre Boulez, and in Germany with Karlheinz Stockhausen. Subsequently he never left Poland, impregnating his works with the culture and soul of his native land.
Close to serialism, his first works, with harsh and dissonant sounds, reflected his investigations into a music stripped of all its elements except tone-colour (Epitaph for mixed chorus and instruments, 1958; Scontri for orchestra, 1960). In the 1970s Gorecki gradually rejected serialism and dissonance in favour of a more gentle, expressive and minimalist style based on melody (Symphony 2, Copernican for soprano, baritone and orchestra, 1972). Exploring early Polish music, both sacred and traditional, he composed many vocal works (Beatus vir for baritone, chorus and orchestra, 1979; Miserere for chorus, 1981). From the 1980s he asserted his stylistic independence, integrating dissonance, contrasting rhythms, varied orchestral densities in a style featuring Polish folklore, notably the dances of the Tatras mountains and the airs of his native Silesia. He later collaborated with the Kronos Quartet, that commissioned several quartets from him (Already it is dusk, 1988; Quasi una Fantasia, 1992; Songs are sung, 1995).
His Symphony n° 3 for soprano and orchestra (1976), the ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’, enabled him to reach international fame in the 1990s with a recording on CD by Dawn Upshaw and the London Sinfonietta.